Do We Really Need to Calm Down?

Released during Pride Month (June) of 2019, Taylor Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down” was a forceful statement, aligning herself as an advocate of the LGBTQ+ community while pointing the finger at everyone who speaks against it.¹ From the sassy beat to the cutting lyrics, Swift calls out everyone speaking against homosexuality, saying, “you need to calm down.”

Have you heard it yet? Listen to the music lyrics video:

Volatile Tension
Did you hear those lyrics? One particular stanza is a clear reference to pride parades and anyone who might disagree and speak against:

You are somebody that we don’t know
But you’re comin’ at my friends like a missile
When you could be GLAAD? (You could be GLAAD)
Sunshine on the street at the parade
But you would rather be in the dark ages
Just makin’ that sign must’ve taken all night
You just need to take several seats and then try to restore the peace
And control your urges to scream about all the people you hate
‘Cause shade never made anybody less gay

And over and over again, the chorus repeats:

You need to calm down, you’re being too loud
And I’m just like oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh (oh)
You need to just stop
Like can you just not step on his gown?
You need to calm down

For many, this song isn’t much of a surprise. Issues around sexuality and gender identity are incredibly delicate and touchy subjects—understandably—but our current society approaches the conversation with anger and hate. Sides are screaming at one another.

Unfortunately, it is likely that this tension will only grow, not diminish. While a balanced, real, thoughtful conversation about gender and sexuality is difficult today, presumably it will only become more difficult for Generation Z in the coming years.

The tension is emphasized because the idea of toleration has changed. In our current society, it’s no longer enough to be civil or even accepting of the queer lifestyle—it seems it has to be celebrated by everyone.

Do you ever wonder when it became wrong to disagree with someone? When it became impossible to have a conversation about different values and beliefs?

Some Truth in Swift’s Lyrics
Of course, this wouldn’t be a balanced article if we ignored the fact that the tension and anger is rooted in something. The song includes the line:

And control your urges to scream about all the people you hate

Before we delve into that line, let’s review a biblical view of sexuality: God created humans male and female, and homosexuality is referred to as a sin. However, homosexuality is a sin that, like all other sins, is covered by the blood of Christ. (See 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Admittedly, many Christians, now and in the past, have not handled this issue well—isolating homosexuals by speaking and acting in hateful, hurtful ways.

While we may disagree with someone’s lifestyle, and while we may advocate for Congress to uphold a biblical stance on sexuality, that doesn’t mean we should be hateful to the people we see and interact with. They’re sinners, like everyone else—like we are. But they’re also made in God’s image and have worth and value as human beings, and we should be showering God’s love on them.

So, maybe we don’t need to “calm down”—but maybe we do need to take care to enter the conversation with tact and grace, while being deliberate to love our neighbors in the LGBTQ+ community.

Play the Long Game: Real-Life Interactions
Perhaps the most influential way Christians can change the tone and break the tension is by treating LGBTQ+ individuals with kindness and respect in daily interactions. Whether the person you’re encountering is a good friend or someone you only see at the grocery store, be willing to smile and say a kind word—treating them with courtesy and compassion, just as we should treat every image-bearer.

We can be careful what and how we post on the internet and social media platforms. It’s easy to hide behind a screen and spit hurtful things. Or perhaps you truly meant to post something meaningful that had some basis in a thoughtful, calm conversation, but that friendly tone was utterly lost in the text. Be careful how you post. Better yet, opt to post less online and talk about it more in person.

There is a place to take a hard stance, a stand that doesn’t celebrate, that doesn’t accept the LGBTQ+ lifestyle as right—which won’t be taken well by those in the LGBTQ+ community. As we uphold the truth of Scripture, let us do so carefully and thoughtfully. Let’s study the issue thoroughly and look at examples of people who have done just this. You may want to read books by Rosaria Butterfield and Jackie Hill Perry—former lesbians who now refute that lifestyle. Or read Christopher Yuan’s testimony about his struggle with homosexuality. All of them now proclaim the truth of Scripture, offering ways to show love, like Jesus, to those in LGBTQ+ lifestyles.

This brief article doesn’t have all the answers and doesn’t pretend to. If only we could answer and fix all the tension around this issue in under a thousand words! But it is an issue we need to continue to think about, reflect on, and study.

Taylor Swift’s song is abrasive against anyone who speaks against LGBTQ+ people and ideology (though, interestingly, it has also raised plenty of debate and anger on all sides). But perhaps this song can be a reminder of the increasing need for Christians to approach this topic with sensitivity and careful, slow words, even while holding to biblical truth. And it’s a reminder that our words and actions should also embody kindness, compassion, and mercy.

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